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The State Ex Rel. Striker v. Cline

October 19, 2011

THE STATE EX REL. STRIKER,
APPELLANT,
v.
CLINE, CLERK OF COURT, ET AL.,
APPELLEES.



APPEAL from the Court of Appeals for Richland County, No. 09CA107, 2011-Ohio-983.

Per curiam.

[Until this opinion appears in the Ohio Official Reports advance sheets, it may be cited as State ex rel. Striker v. Cline, Slip Opinion No. 2011-Ohio-5350.]

NOTICE

This slip opinion is subject to formal revision before it is published in an advance sheet of the Ohio Official Reports. Readers are requested to promptly notify the Reporter of Decisions, Supreme Court of Ohio, 65 South Front Street, Columbus, Ohio 43215, of any typographical or other formal errors in the opinion, in order that corrections may be made before the opinion is published.

SLIP OPINION NO. 2011-OHIO-5350

[Until this opinion appears in the Ohio Official Reports advance sheets, it may be cited as State ex rel. Striker v. Cline, Slip Opinion No. 2011-Ohio-5350.]

R.C. 2323.51--Court of appeals did not abuse its discretion in awarding attorney fees to party after determining that opposing party's conduct in repeatedly relitigating an issue after first raising it unsuccessfully constituted frivolous conduct under R.C. 2323.51.

Submitted September 6, 2011

{¶1} This is an appeal from a judgment entered by the court of appeals awarding appellee, Shelby Municipal Court Clerk Alyce F. Cline, $3,503 in attorney fees as sanctions pursuant to R.C. 2323.51 for the frivolous conduct of appellant, Raleigh M. Striker, in a public-records mandamus case. Because the court of appeals did not abuse its discretion in awarding the clerk attorney fees for Striker's frivolous conduct, we affirm the judgment.

Facts

{¶2} In September 2009, Striker filed a pro se complaint in the Court of Appeals for Richland County for a writ of mandamus to compel the respondents, the clerk and the city of Shelby, Ohio, to make certain records available for inspection and copying under R.C. 149.43, the Ohio Public Records Act. On September 16, 2009, attorney Jon K. Burton of the law firm Renwick, Welsh & Burton filed a "notice of delivery of public records" on behalf of the city. A couple days later, attorneys James A. Climer and Cara M. Wright of the law firm Mazanec, Raskin, Ryder & Keller Co., L.P.A. entered a notice of appearance on behalf of the clerk and the city. They later filed an answer on behalf of the respondents.

{¶3} On October 30, 2009, Striker filed a motion to strike the documents that the Mazanec law firm had filed on behalf of the respondents. Striker claimed that under R.C. 733.51, Shelby Law Director Richard L. Shepherd had a duty to act as the respondents' attorney in the mandamus case and that the Mazanec law firm thus lacked authority to represent the respondents. Striker filed a second motion challenging the propriety of the Mazanec law firm's representation of the respondents. On December 4, 2009, the court of appeals denied Striker's motions, holding that "[w]hile R.C. 733.51 permits the law director to represent [the clerk], [Striker] cites no legal authority for the proposition [that the clerk] is not entitled to choose her own counsel."

{¶4} After the court of appeals denied his argument contesting the appropriateness of the Mazanec law firm's representation, Striker repeatedly raised the same issue--in an application for reconsideration, a memorandum in support of his motions for a definite statement and for permissive joinder, a memorandum in support of another motion for a definite statement, a memorandum in opposition to summary judgment, an initial merit brief, a reply brief, another application for reconsideration, and a motion for relief from judgment. Time after time, the court of appeals rejected the argument.

{ΒΆ5} On June 21, 2010, the court of appeals denied Striker's request for a writ of mandamus. State ex rel. Striker v. Cline, Richland App. No. 09CA107, 2010-Ohio-2861. Striker did not file a timely appeal from that judgment. Instead, he appealed from the court's August 3, 2010 nunc pro tunc entry, which had corrected a typographical error on the cover page of the opinion to reflect the correct counsel who represented the clerk. Striker also appealed from the court of appeals' August 31, 2010 denial of his application for a show-cause order relating to the designation of counsel for the clerk. We dismissed both appeals. State ...


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